Through exhibitions, programs and partnerships we strive to be an active community resource, connecting contemporary audiences to Esherick’s brilliant creations and the beauty of the everyday.
Leave a Light On: The 26th Annual Juried Woodworking Exhibition
September 8, 2019 – December 29, 2019
In 1994, the annual thematic woodworking competition began as an opportunity to encourage new, creative and imaginative designs in wood. Encouraged to think like Esherick and invent designs both expressive and functional, professional woodworkers, artists, hobbyists and craftspeople have submitted hundreds of pieces reflecting each year’s theme. From wooden jewelry to wall cabinets, chairs to desk accessories and everything in between, the next generation of artistry in wood has passed through the doors of the Wharton Esherick Museum.
In this 26th year of our annual exhibition, we celebrate innovative approaches to lighting. Esherick brilliantly integrated lighting into his work, as seen in his knock-out 1958 Cabinet Desk, which delights the user with lights that turn on when a drawer is pulled open, or his Expressionist lamps whose sculptural forms cast bold shadows across the room. This year’s exhibition includes 13 works by artists from across the country whose explorations in the transformative nature of light range from the humorous, to the elegant, to the dramatic.
Thank you to this year’s jury who had the incredibly difficult task of narrowing down 77 entries to only 13 finalists:
Robert Aibel, Moderne Gallery Founder and Co-Director
Thomas Scurto-Davis, Main Line Art Center Executive Director
Laura Heemer, Curator & Program Director, Wharton Esherick Museum
Exhibitions in our Visitor Center are free to the public. This does not include admission to the Museum for which advance reservations are required.
Upcoming Offsite Exhibition
Wharton Esherick: An Artistic Legacy Through Necessity
January 14, 2020 – April 5, 2020
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
School of Fine Arts Gallery
and Tuttleman Sculpture Gallery
Curated by John Grieg
Wharton Esherick: An Artistic Legacy Through Necessity examines how the symbiotic connection of fine and applied arts is as relevant for artists today as it was for Esherick, and how artists have used their fine art training to pursue creative careers in design, fabrication, and related fields.
Wharton Esherick was a leading figure in the American Studio Craft Movement which developed after 1945. These artists used new techniques and non-traditional materials, embraced utilitarian aspects of craft, and produced unique art objects that fused abstract form with function. Wharton Esherick: An Artistic Legacy Through Necessity, explores the productive relationship between applied and fine arts within his work, while placing the artist’s practice in conversation with recent alumni from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
Current Offsite Exhibition
Art at the Airport
On view through December 2019
Philadelphia International Airport
Terminal A-East Baggage Claim
Imprint is cleared for take off! Our 2018 Imprint finalists along with over 60 additional student submissions are now on view at the Philadelphia International Airport – though you don’t have to be traveling to see it! On display in the Youth Art Gallery, near Terminal A-East Baggage Claim, the show is accessible to the public.
In anticipation of our partnership with the Art at the Airport program, we introduced a theme to our 2018 printmaking competition: The Life and Work of Wharton Esherick. On view are a range of interpretations, including a portrait of Wharton, places he loved, and depictions of the Studio both real and imagined, alongside images of the Museum and Esherick’s work.
Photograph courtesy of Philadelphia International Airport
Center for Creative Works Residency
In April of 2018, the Wharton Esherick Museum launched a new partnership with the Center for Creative Works, an art studio focusing on developing creative workplace potential and cultural identity for people with intellectual disabilities. During the residency, a dedicated group of artists from CCW are on site weekly to draw inspiration from Esherick’s work through observation, sketching, model-making and discussion. With guidance from furniture makers and woodworking instructors the resident CCW artists refine their designs and techniques at the CCW woodshop and facilities in Wynnewood. Our resident artists in 2019 are focusing on green woodworking techniques, led by CCW’s woodworking instructor Sherina Poorman and guest instructor Nick Flaherty from the University of the Arts.
Philly Touch Tours
With support from the National Endowment for the Arts and other generous funders, the Wharton Esherick Museum has engaged Philly Touch Tours to design, develop and host accessible touch experiences for people with vision loss. Philly Touch Tours LLC, founded in 2015, provides accessibility consulting and touch tour program design for museums and cultural institutions and Disability Awareness and Sensitivity Training for museum and cultural institution staff. Philly Touch Tours will, in collaboration with the Museum, design and facilitate touch tours, provide training for Museum staff and volunteers on leading tours for individuals with vision loss and produce Braille and large print materials. The program aims to inspire curiosity and facilitate a meaningful experience for people with vision loss, while disseminating information about The Wharton Esherick Museum’s history, its collection and its active engagement with the public.
Launched in 2014, CraftNOW Philadelphia unites the leading institutions and artists of Philadelphia’s craft community in a celebration of the city’s rich legacy of craft, its internationally-recognized contemporary craft scene, and its important role as an incubator for arts based in wood, clay, fiber, metal and glass. Through both creating and spotlighting events during the week of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, CraftNOW invites locals and visitors alike to explore Philadelphia’s innovations in the world of the handmade.
The Wharton Esherick Museum is a proud member of the consortium of individuals, galleries, museums, universities, retailers, and civic organizations who participate in CraftNOW each November. For details on CraftNOW events for 2019 visit our event calendar.